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CTF-Oraxin-SE 
Map Info


 
File Namectf-oraxin-se.zip
AuthorCyMek
GametypeUT2k4 Capture The Flag
Date Added04-10-2006
File Version1.10
File Size14.12 mb
Player Count8 - 14
Map DescriptionThis is the SE version of the map to fix, among other things, a huge HOM that was found minutes after the release of the last map, and somehow sprang up after my last test. I also changed a lot of other things in the map because I wasn't quite happy with the last version, and this one is a lot more polished. There are more changes than I can even think about, but there are a lot of them, and I'm finally happy to let the map go.

The map's rocking new soundtrack is courtesey of Zynthetic, and is makes the download worth it even if you hate the map. Thanks so much!

Please let me know what you think of this map, I'm trying ot get better as a mapper, and it's hard if you don't let me know what you like and what you hate!

Huge thanks to Ironblayde for the review!!
Review Rating5
User Rating7.5
Overall Rating6.0



 
Review


ReviewerIronblaydeAwe Score: 1.5/3
Date05-01-2006Build Score: 1.5/3
Review SchemaCast Score: 2.0/3
User Point: +1
Overall Score: 6.0/10

AWE: 1.5

According to the author's notes - the ones placed in the editor for those of us who care to look - several thousand kittens were killed in the making of this map. Perhaps they were simply killed out of frustration, or perhaps CyMek sacrificed them to some pagan god to enhance his level design abilities. Whatever the case, kitten-slaying doesn't seem to do much for a map's visual appeal, as what we have here is a very average, industrial-themed map. Though it includes a few new textures and a handful of custom static meshes, most of it looks very familiar, with the usual meshes used in the usual ways.

The map does have its strong points, visually speaking. Although the meshes used for this map are nothing new, they're never inappropriate, and are typically placed intelligently. The outdoor areas look pretty good too, and include some decorative architecture that helps sell the illusion that this is an actual location. The terrain is a bit boring, though, and there's some decidedly odd coloring going on in the sky.

I have two major complaints about the map's appearance. The first is that I don't think the author has handled his BSP geometry very well. There are some awkward shapes here and there, and a number of places where the meeting point of two surfaces is too abrupt, where a bit of trim would have helped things a lot. Trim isn't lacking everywhere; some doorways are trimmed with meshes, and those look good. A few others are trimmed with BSP, and those don't look good because the trim sometimes varies in width as it wraps around the openings. Finally, there are a few instances in which a static mesh has been placed so that one of its surfaces coincides with a BSP surface; when this happens you get a kind of flickering effect, with one surface and then the other becoming visible as you view it from different angles. This happens on a few light fixtures.

My second complaint is that the lighting is pretty weak. The map is dominated by yellows and greens which aren't very pretty, but that's not my main concern. The thing that gets to me is the large number of areas which are conspicuously underlit, or not lit at all. Solid blacks are unattractive and can make it difficult to tell where you're going. Sometimes these seem to occur because static meshes have been placed in such a way that none of their vertices are exposed, but usually it's just a lack of light sources in the area. There are also a few places where heavily saturated team-colored lighting is emanating from a light source that uses an unlit white texture; if you're going to use unlit surfaces for lights, they have to be the right color. All in all, it's just not a good job. This map could have looked a lot better with proper lighting.

BUILD: 1.5

The technical side of the map is also hit and miss: some aspects of it are done well, and others are not. Most people should not have any performance problems with the map, as it's been thoroughly and effectively zoned. The map's layout is such that antiportals are unnecessary, and its complexity is low enough that world detail settings aren't necessary either.

That said, there was a performance-related bug, at least for me: a kind of "stuttering" effect I experienced while playing. It's not the same thing as a low framerate, exactly. It's more like the game is being interrupted at very brief, irregular intervals. I've seen this occur before when I try to run UT2004 with other applications running in the background that are using too many resources, but I've never seen the effect confined to a specific map before. I tested the map on three machines. One had no difficulty, the second exhibited the effect but only to a minor extent, and on the third it was a real problem. I'm not prepared to say what causes this - I think it will take someone more knowledgeable than me - but it seems that it might be related to how much RAM is available. I have no idea why this map would give me this problem when other maps that are more complicated in seemingly every way do not, but it was very irritating. I'm not going to dock the score much for this as it seems likely that the author never even encountered this issue during testing, but those of you with lesser machines might experience some oddities. Or maybe I'm just very unlucky. It could be the ghosts of all those slaughtered kittens expressing their displeasure.

On the plus side, the bots work very well. The only problem there is that they can't pull off the few ramp-dodges, but that hardly impairs them at all. They take multiple routes to and from the enemy flag, and always seem to be in the right place to ruin your day when you try to capture.

A few other, assorted things are worth mentioning here. First, the author's brushwork could use improvement, as there are some needlessly complex brushes around, some of which have more distinct surfaces than they ought to. Second, there are a number of alignment errors, not so much with brushes but with static meshes. In addition to the flickering effects I noted in the preceding section, there are also instances of meshes that pass through one another awkwardly, whose dimensions seem to be slightly off for the places they're being used, or that protrude slightly from surfaces where they shouldn't be seen. There's also a strange bug where a fluid surface near each flag partially or wholly disappears when you look at it from certain angles.

Finally, the map doesn't use sound very well. When I opened the map in the editor, I was surprised to find how many ambient sounds have been placed, because most of them are virtually inaudible in the game. The map does include a custom music track, which is always nice. Unfortunately it's just a remix of firebr.umx from the original Unreal Tournament, which I never liked in the first place; I find it too repetitive. Still, it fits the map pretty well.

CAST: 2.0

In my opinion, the map's layout is its best feature. Whatever its other failings, it's definitely fun to play. The bases are connected by three main routes, all of which are equally viable, and the number of overlaps and intersections between them is just right. If routes are too isolated from one another, a map becomes boring. If they're too interconnected, the map can become too open, or too complicated. CyMek does a great job striking the balance. It's fun experimenting with the different combinations of paths through the map, and trying to figure out how to throw off the defending team while running the flag. And conversely, it's interesting trying to find the best way to intercept an enemy flag runner, too. Even the bots play that game well; several times in testing I thought I was home free with the flag only to find a pair of bots waiting for me when I turned a corner.

Item selection and placement works well, too. The weapons are distributed evenly enough that the various routes stay balanced; you can take any path through the map and be sure that you'll pick up something useful. The amount of health available is just about right. None of the most powerful pickups are used (no Super Shield, Double Damage, or Redeemer), which is fine with me; that choice seems to suit this map well. There are a few item placements that could have been better, though. There are several ammo packs in and around the flag rooms that are stuffed into inconvenient corners, and the set of health vials in front of each flag doesn't seem right either. There are also a few places where there's a health pack stuffed into a dead end between two ramps, and those are definitely annoying.

Those few hitches in the item placement aside, the map flows pretty well. The author did a thorough job with BlockingVolumes, making sure that there are few places to get snagged on the level geometry. Still, there are definitely some places where navigation could have been made a little easier. The rooms containing the Rocket Launchers annoyed me, as they're surrounded by barriers that are probably higher than they need to be. The collapsed ceilings near the Bio-Rifles can prove troublesome if you try to pass too close. And I don't mind ramp-dodges, but it seems wrong to stick one in a dead end as the only means of egress. The precision required to carry it off, while not exactly difficult, can still prove a troublesome delay if you try to use it when you're running a flag and have enemies right on your tail.

FINAL SCORE: 5.0

Oraxin-SE is a fun map to play - assuming you don't encounter the mysterious performance problems that plagued me - but with lackluster visuals and some technical shortcomings. All things considered, I think it's a little above average, though generally unremarkable. The author definitely needs to work on lighting, and on precision when assembling his architecture. That, or sacrifice more kittens next time.







 
Map Comments


Turns2Ashes
04-11-2006 04:05 PM MDT
Rating: 8 
Hey CyM.

Map is super kewl!

souldividersjosz
04-12-2006 05:50 PM MDT
Rating: 7 
Nice final version.

Manticore
04-13-2006 09:52 PM MDT
Rating: 7 
Good CTF gameplay. Decent visuals.

CyMek
05-02-2006 05:46 PM MDT
 
Thanks for the review Ironblayde! Weird thing, the map looks fine on my computer (see screenies) but I agree, it turned out really dark on yours. I wish beta testers weren't so danged hard to find. :/
I also agree that the map looks kinda off, especially in the lighting, but I wanted to try something different from the usual blue/yellow scheme that abounds everywhere, and I suppose it didn't work out very well.

The geometry wound up being pretty sloppy, although I doubt I'll be making any more UT2004 maps, so I guess that's buried now.

Thanks to everyone who downloads and plays my maps! Every download enables me to get more kittens for sacrifice, and more kittens means better maps!

@Iron: I've grown somewhat disillusioned with the game. I might stick on long enough for UT2007, but I'll have to see how the game plays. It's also frustrating how hard it is to find good feedback. I'm starting to use Hammer, and while I'm not fan of the interface, the community is great, and the engine is very solid.

Ironblayde
05-01-2006 10:55 PM MDT
 
Why no more 2K4 maps, CyMek? Have you just gotten bored with the game or something?

Anyway, the differences in the appearance of my screenshots and yours can be attributed to different brightness/contrast/gamma settings. But cranking those settings up higher to make black areas appear brighter isn't a substitute for having the requisite number of light sources in the map itself, just for future reference. You might be able to navigate the map more easily with a higher brightness setting, but the area in question will still lack contrast and definition.

Still a pretty good job overall, though. Hopefully you'll change your mind about UT2004. :)



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